What are you actually buying this Christmas?
We have come to accept stress at Christmas time as a normal thing that happens to most of us.
We may stress about what gifts to buy, or if we’ll have enough money for everything we want to buy, or if we’ll have enough money left after Christmas, and about how we are going to pay off our credit card debt…
And this list is just about money stress, then we have stress about where and how to celebrate, what meals to cook and the list goes on…and on…
And yet, although there seem to be many stressful things at Christmas, this stress really comes from only 2 sources:
- How do we fulfil the expectations of others (partners, family and friends)?
- How do we fulfil our own expectations?
Once we find the answers to the above we can eliminate a great deal of stress during and beyond Christmas.
As you may already realise budgeting is a very useful planning and financial discipline tool, which does help to reduce financial stress.
However, have you also noticed that those who really love budgeting are not the ones who use it to curb their over-spending, they are not really the ones with the biggest spending stress in the first place, although they do stress as well, but for other reasons.
So we need to look at another solution.
I believe this solution will be revealed when you examine your attitude to buying, when you ask yourself this other question:
“What is it that I am actually buying?”
When you reflect on this questions you will probably come up with one or a few of these answers:
- I may be buying a good feeling – by buying this shirt, shoes, perfume I want to feel special and indulged.
- I may be buying to impress others – When I buy expensive gifts I feel I am making a bigger impact, I stand out (compared to my siblings, friends, etc).
- I may be buying to receive appreciation and affection – by going overboard to make sure that every single detail of the perfect gift is taken care of.
- I may be buying a practical investment – by choosing utility items such as socks or electric toothbrushes and wondering why they are always on the Christmas jokes list.
Now that you know why you buy gifts, you maybe thinking… and what is wrong with this list. Think about that:
Christmas is not really about buying, it is about giving!
So, before you go and break the bank take a moment and:
- Acknowledge your needs and expectations and make a mental note of what other ways you can fulfil these, apart from buying material things.
- Put yourself in your loved one’s shoes and think about what they would like to receive, it may be totally irrational to you (special Christmas outfit for their guinea pig for example) but if it will make them happy, it is worth it.
It is no different than providing the best services to your clients – here’s a way you can see what your customers see and value
- Find a common denominator between how you can fulfil your expectations/needs and how you can fulfil others’ expectations – in other words give a Christmas present which will make everyone happy.
So go with plan B and you’ll make for a very memorable Christmas.
What else can you do?
Share food, good humour (no extreme pranks) and post-Christmas experiences, such as having a spa day (including floating!!! and yoga) or bungy jumping, cooking the Christmas lunch together, or using your craft making skills to create beautiful gift boxes for the whole family.
The list of possibility is only limited to your imagination.
Enjoy your Christmas – it is about giving and sharing, not buying!